Irvine, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Daman Starring fired 25 points and Michael Wilder added 12 markers and 11 dimes as UC Irvine got its campaign off to a winning start, beating Nevada, 78-64, Saturday at Bren Events Center.
The 6-3 Starring made seven of his 15 attempts and buried all of his 10 foul shots on top of seven boards while Alex Young added 12 off the bench for the Anteaters, ranked No. 3 in the Big West Conference preseason poll.
The win helped the Anteaters snap a seven-game losing streak to the Wolk Pack, who still lead their head-to-head matchup, 13-6.
The Anteaters last prevailed over the Wolf Pack, 76-74, in overtime at the Bren Center Jan. 23, 1997 for their only win in a 1-25 season. In their last meeting last Feb. 19, 2011 in Reno, Nevada won, 74-63.
Malik Story was the only scorer in double digits with 21 points for the Wolf Pack, who lost their first foray in the Mountain West Conference.
Nevada junior guard Deonte Burton, who earned the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors last season with an average of 14.8 points and 4.2 assists, was limited to eight points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Starring scored 11 points in the first half and his three-pointer with less than three minutes remaining put the Anteaters ahead by 36-31.
Wilder and Starring scored two baskets apiece as the Anteaters opened the second half with an 11-4 run to extend their lead to 47-35.
The Wolf Pack closed within 47-39 but the Anteaters unleashed an 11-0 run behind Starring, Adam Folker and David Flowers to take a 58-39 advantage midway in the second half.
Nevada trimmed the gap to nine, 67-58, after a foul shot by Story but UC Irvine launched a short 11-4 burst to cap the victory.